China: Population falls for first time since 1961

China says its population dropped by around 850,000 people last year, marking the first decline in 61 years.

The National Bureau of Statistics announced on Tuesday that the total on the mainland stood at an estimated one billion, 411 million, 750 thousand as of the end of 2022.

The last time the country's population dropped was in 1960 and 1961, when the "Great Leap Forward" policy failed and many people starved to death.

China ended its one-child policy in 2016 after struggling with labor shortages and a rapidly aging demographic. Since 2021, people have been allowed to have up to three children. But the birth rate remains low due to the high cost of raising a family and changes in views about marriage and having children.

Driven by its growing population, China rose to become the world's second-largest economic power, but observers say if the population continues to decline, that economic growth could be affected.